During the week it was reported that Independent TD Mick Wallace has claimed that a number of gardaí are involved with the drug trade.
These claims include allegations that a senior garda in the Midlands supplied drugs for distribution to his girlfriend; that gardaí supervised the removal of drugs from boats, and that gardaí have tasked drug dealers with selling seized drugs.
This is not the first time that such allegations have been raised. Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan in May of this year raised concerns that members of the force are linked to the heroin trade.
There has also been scandals revealed this year involving penalty points and the ‘Pulse system’ used to record them.
Pulse is short for Police Using Leading Systems Effectively, and is a computer system used by an Garda Síochána for recording crime.
These allegations come from various whistle blowers within the force.
As we have seen, a number of the claims by Maurice McCabe, John Wilson, Nicky Keogh and the other whistle blowers, appear to have been vindicated by various reports in the aftermath of the recent scandals.
The resignations of the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and of the former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, are arguably further vindication.
Corruption is everywhere, so to claim there is none in the gardaí, as some do, would be naive. However to claim it is the majority involved, may also be mistaken.
The gardaí has around 13,000 members in its force, perhaps only a small percentage are involved in corruption, including within the drug trade.
If the figure was as low as 1% (1 in every 100) that would still be over 100 corrupt gardaí, a 10% figure would mean well over 1,000.
We may never know the extent of corruption, although a thorough investigation, and root and branch reform of the force might shine more light on the matter.
For every member that is corruptly involved with the drug trade, there is arguably a lot more who are anti-drugs.
If you were to assess your local gardaí would you come to the conclusion they were more likely to bust you or deal to you? Most I reckon would suggest the former.
Although as feedback on Irish Cannabis News and elsewhere has indicated, policing issuses in the town of Athlone is one many commentators raised concerns around.
One must take into account it would generally be members of the drugs unit dealing with such matters, and not every garda will attend raids.
However whether it is one or thousands of gardai involved in the drug trade, such corruption should be tackled and those involved taken to the courts.
Given the power a garda has to affect your civil liberties, the general public need to feel a certain level of trust with their police force. This trust level appear at all time lows as of late, and scandals like this will not help.
What this scandal does further highlight is the need to remove the criminal element from the drugs trade.
Ending prohibition would not just free up gardaí time, but it would also take individuals out of situations where a culture of corruption could arise.
When you have situations of being around lots of cash, drugs and other gains from the drug trade, it is unsurprising if a number of gardai, some crippled financially like the average citizen, would be drawn into it.
That is not to accept or condone their actions however, but it is to highlight one benefit of removing a huge proportion of the drug trade out of the black market.
All this is further damaging to the force, especially in light of another recent scandal involving gardaí and the drug trade. The allegations recently that individuals were being recorded in the pulse system as drug offenders, even thought they were not is a cause for concern.
I hope to in the coming weeks do a follow up blog post on this scandal of putting people in the pulse system regardless if an offense was committed.
To conclude, when prohibition leads to a situation where globally a fraction of those involved with the policing of the trade get involved, this just further highlights the fallacy of prohibition, and the need for reform.
Have you had any run-ins with the law? Any other thoughts? Feel free to comment below